A Taste of Life at Windrush Alpacas

December 2, 2013

Winter can be frigid! Are you wearing alpaca?

Filed under: Adopt A Paca, alpaca socks, Open Farm Day — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 4:09 pm

The girls in their coatsGet warm and toasty with alpaca socks, gloves, scarves and more!

It’s that time again for gift shopping for your loved ones and friends, so for the holiday season (and your convenience), Windrush Alpacas Farm Store will be open every Saturday through the end of December from 10:00-3:00.  We have ready-to-wear, super warm garments and accessories as well as toys, bedding, crafting supplies and more. We stock a wide variety of gifts to accommodate men, women, children, and pets. You’ll find something for everyone!

Our two most popular gift items are the Extreme socks and our Adopt-a-Paca Program: one will keep your tootsies warm and the other will warm your heart. Come by to find out more or shop online if you wish!

On Saturday, December 14th from 10:00-3:00 we’ll also be open for our monthly Open Farm Day Event during which we offer tours of our working alpaca farm, give educational demonstrations and let visitors interact with our friendly alpacas. If it happens to be chilly or windy, we’ll bring one of our star alpacas into the Farm Store to visit folks so there’s no excuse for missing the fun!

As usual, we offer free admission, free parking and free (hot) refreshments. Come join us 1-1/4 miles south of Brady on CRM… see you soon!

For more information, call us at 575-683-5177 or visit our website at www.windrushalpacas.com. Also, you can Like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/WindrushAlpacas and shop online at http://www.windrushalpacas.net/store/ and sign up for our newsletter!

January 4, 2010

Blogging again in 2010

Filed under: alpaca, alpaca products, alpaca socks, Alpacas, camelids, General, warm socks, yarn — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 7:20 am

Well I took a longer than expected break from blogging over the Christmas period.  That was not my intention but dealing with cold snowy, weather, Christmas preparations and having the farm store open for some reason seemed to eat into my blogging time.  Can’t think why!

It was nice having the farm store open for December, we had some great customers and hope to see them back again during the year.  Hats off to those customers who drove out here in the snow and freezing cold to do their Christmas shopping.  We are now trying to decide how to manage the farm store for the coming year, we would love to open it on a regular basis but we need to decide what we would do if we were away at a show at a time when the store is scheduled to be open.   It’s quite the puzzle but we will keep working at it.  In the meantime I have created an online gallery of our products using a website called Smugmug.  The gallery has worked out well for our long distance customers, allowing them to see some of the products we have available without having large picture files clog up their email boxes.  I haven’t loaded our rugs to the gallery yet but if you want to take a look you can access the gallery at:

http://alpacalady.smugmug.com/Alpaca-Products/Scarves/10615965_CWzyW/1/741844596_ePiYb

or if you prefer to view the pictures as a slideshow you can go to

http://alpacalady.smugmug.com/photos/swfpopup.mg?AlbumID=10615965&AlbumKey=CWzyW

I really love my Smugmug account, it’s a great place to load up alpaca pictures for prospective purchases too and of course you can load up personal pictures if you want to.  Having the pictures loaded to Smugmug provides reasonably priced safe storage for your photos and you can also create greetings cards using your photos if you want to.  If you want to try out Smugmug you can go to www.smugmug.com and sign up for a free 14 day trial, if you decide you really like Smugmug you can purchase access to the site at different levels.  When you sign up be sure to add our email address windrush@plateautel.net in the Email/Coupon box to receive a little discount 🙂

Having had such a break away from blogging there is lots of news to catch up on and so I will get back to more regular updates to the blog.

Happy New Year to all and hope you will be back to catch up with us soon!

Rosemary

December 8, 2009

Can It Get Any Colder!

The alpaca boys watch the snow

The alpaca boys stay on their warm spots and watch the snow

The last week has seen our weather change from the balmy temperatures of an early New Mexico fall to the bone chilling cold that can occur during late fall and winter.

Part of farming is accepting that you are at the mercy of the elements – you can’t control the weather and have to be prepared to work in whatever weather comes your way.  As the cold arrives the insulated coveralls are brought out of the closet, the alpacas socks become a permanent fixture on our feet, the fleece lined jeans are the dress choice of the day and our snow boots start to prove their worth.  Water bucket heaters are installed and the alpacas and horses are treated to extra hay on those super cold days.

Last Thursday we were initially forecast for a fairly cold dry day, but during the night the cold front that was coming into the area headed just a little further south than the weather man had predicted and by Thursday morning our ground was covered with snow.  Initial predictions of accumulation of an inch soon went out the window as by 9 a.m. two inches were already on the ground.

With the snow starting during the night the alpacas were already bedded down for the evening and having been cushed for a while each one had developed a warm spot where they were sitting.  When the snow started to fall it settled on the top of their fleeces but they were nice and warm – and were not moving!

We're not moving

Cosmo and friends stay out in the weather

Some of the alpacas were in their shelters, Theresa had moved her cria into the shelter and the little one was dry, warm and more than ready to show off her repertoire of bucks and kicks.  Ana Lynnette too had headed inside the shelter with her cria Roadrunner and the pair were contentedly watching the snow fall.

Box Car Alpaca Boys

Homer and Tobiano decided the shelter of the box car was a better place to be

It seems as if that snow fall opened the doors for an arctic blast because since then it has been cold – very cold.  Someone told us that Thursday night was reported as being record cold and since then it has only got colder.    By Monday our night time low was 18 (- 7.7 Celsius) and our daytime high was 26 (-3.3 Celsius)– and that’s without figuring in any wind chill.  But despite the cold the chores still need to be done – the animals fed, the poop piles raked, the dogs walked.  We still opened the store on Saturday and met some lovely (and hardy!) customers who came out to stock up on warm alpaca socks and Christmas gifts for the family.

The good news is that we can take our time getting the chores done and then head into the warmth of the house for some hot tea and warm food.  Then we can get on with some inside tasks and take a few minutes here and there to enjoy watching the alpacas whether they are rooting around in the hay, sitting out chewing their cud or wrestling, pronging and playing in the late afternoon as they start to build up their body heat for the night.

Our temperatures are supposed to warm up starting today, I say supposed to because already the forecast has changed a little and the word snow has now reappeared in the forecast as well as the mention of 60 mph wind – sounds like it’s going to be an interesting day, I don’t think I will be packing away the insulated coveralls, snow boots and alpaca socks anytime soon!

Rosemary

November 19, 2009

It’s Almost Time For…..

Open Farm Day!  This Saturday November 21 we will again be opening the farm to the public from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

We try to have an Open Farm Day at least once a quarter but with the holiday season rapidly approaching we will be having Open Farm Days on November 21 and December 19.  In addition to the Open Farm Days we will also be opening the Farm Store from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Saturday in December until Christmas.  So there will be plenty of opportunity for people to come out and do their Christmas shopping and also see the alpacas between now and Christmas.

There is always much preparation for an Open Farm Day, new products to be found, inventory to be priced and put out on display, copies of alpaca coloring pages to be made to help keep the little ones entertained, cookies to be baked and a general tidy up around the farm.

I am excited that we have recently started to offer a few new products, pretty Peruvian alpaca hats, needle felting starter kits in bright colors, handmade soaps covered in a felted alpaca wrap that smell divine and also alpaca bird nesting balls to help the birds build their nests in the spring.  It’s great that we have access to such a diverse selection of alpaca goodies and shows how people in the alpaca industry are becoming very creative in using our versatile alpaca fiber.

 

Alpaca Bird Nesting Ball

Alpaca Bird Nesting Ball (picture courtesy of Alpacas of the Covenant the creators of this neat alpaca product)

Of course we will also have plenty of alpaca socks in stock along with gloves, scarves, ski bands, yarn and rugs.   We feel it is important to have a nice selection of inventory on hand to suit everyone’s budget and so have products ranging in price from $10 to $200.

The alpacas of course always receive a lot of attention during Open Farm Days and hopefully will be on their best behavior.  They usually manage to easily entertain our visitors with their curious stares and cautious sniffs.  I can guarantee that they will have their pictures taken several times during the day and I suspect Theresa’s new cria will be the star of the show.

Hopefully our warm and sunny weather will hold out at least through the weekend, it’s always more pleasant for our visitors if they can stand in a warm, sunny pasture, but of course those colder days make people appreciate the warmth of alpaca fiber more.  Whatever the weather we will enjoy meeting those who come out to the farm and hope that they will enjoy meeting us and spending their time here too.

 

Rosemary

March 28, 2009

Brrr!

A Snow Covered Dream

A Snow Covered Dream

 

That was the word for the day yesterday when our temperatures plummeted, the winds picked up and the snow fell.

 

We were initially forecast to receive 5 – 7 inches of snow, but there was nowhere near that amount on the ground except for where the snow piled into drifts.  I suspect that whatever snowfall was supposed to be ours blew south in the high winds.

 

The alpacas were huddled up and snow covered by the time we woke up in the morning and I couldn’t resist taking the picture above of poor Dream who was just caked in snow.  Dream had created herself a warm dry spot by the shelter and did not want to get up, but the sight of the morning feed bowls soon changed her mind, persuading her to jump up and join in with the morning feed.

 

Marti who is here for breeding was a concern for us as she was shorn before she arrived here this week.  Fortunately Marti is a smart girl and was cushed in the corner of the shelter in the deep straw.  She was a little shivery though so after giving her a little alfalfa and her morning ration of pellets we put a blanket on her and also covered her with one of our sheep covers to act as a windbreak and to keep the blanket dry.  We kept a watch on her all day and she was up and active, eating hay and occasionally venturing out to the poop pile.  I bet she was wishing she could have her fleece back for at least a day.

 

Little Candytuft fared well in the snow, despite being very young she is a sturdy girl who already weighs close to 40 lbs and she already has a good staple length on her.    I didn’t see her looking cold or shivery all day, which is good, and by the afternoon she was skipping around in the snow.

 

The alpacas were all treated to some extra hay including some alfalfa, warm soaked beet pulp shreds and buckets of warm water.  They all remained active during the day, checking out the various hay feeders and running from shelter to shelter.  Of course they also decided that they didn’t really need to venture outside to use a poop pile and so by the end of the day the poop piles in the shelter were large and spreading.

 

Once again Mother Nature gave us a sharp reminder of how quickly the weather can turn in this part of the world, dropping us down into the 20’s and 30’s and sending us to the closet to pull out our insulated coveralls and alpaca socks once again.  It is incredible to think that the day before we had sunny skies and temperatures in the 70’s.

 

Today we are supposed to warm up just as dramatically as we cooled down, the snow will melt, the pastures will dry out and I’m betting Miss Marti will be just a little bit more comfortable than she was yesterday!

 

Rosemary

March 14, 2009

Snow Crusted Crias!

The alpacas swarm in on a hay feeder in the snow

The alpacas swarm in on a hay feeder in the snow

 

After several dry weeks we finally got some moisture, a couple of inches of wet snow!   Yesterday morning started off with sleet but it soon turned to large white flakes of snow.  The snow soon covered the ground and also covered the alpacas.    Cushed, warm and comfortable the adult alpacas did not want to get up and so stayed cushed getting covered in snow until we started to put out feed.  The crias enjoyed the snow, playing chase, digging in it and nosing it, oblivious to the crust of snow building up on their backs. 

A Snow Crusted Chandra

A Snow Crusted Chandra

It’s amazing how a full fleece can stay on the top of the fleece and almost become an insulating crust.  Look at this close up of Velvet’s fleece to see how the snow just sits on the top.  If you parted that fleece you would discover that she was warm and dry close to the skin.
snow-crusted-velvet-fleece

Velvet's Snow Covered Fleece

The alpacas didn’t seem concerned about the snow and thankfully the wind was light and so the temperature did not feel too bad as we did chores.  Obviously warm clothes and gloves were needed (including of course alpaca socks), but with the right attire doing chores in the snow was really not bad.  Of course I am talking about an Eastern New Mexico snowfall as opposed to a northern state snowfall, which would be much heavier and last for much longer.  I know I can cope with a few days of snow, but I’m definitely not cut out for the several weeks of snow some of the more northern states experience.

 Once the feed and hay was out the alpacas were all quite happy to stand out in the snow and eat from the hay feeders.  I was going to move one our of outside hayfeeders in to one of the shelters but as you can see from the picture below it was quickly surrounded by alpacas who were not keen on me moving it!

 

The alpacas enjoyed their daily treat of warm soaked beet pulp and we also added a little alfalfa to their hay to help them stay warm throughout the day.  

 

By the time the snow stopped falling everyone was pretty happy, the alpacas had full stomachs, the crias were having fun and we were happy to see moisture finally soaking our parched ground.

 

Rosemary

January 31, 2009

When Not To Make Black Bean Soup

 

Living on a farm you get used to seeing odd things in all sorts of places, pockets tend to be good places to store things such as baling twine, a found alpaca tooth, syringes etc.  Ric once had a moment of relief after driving away from a random security check on the local air force base, as he felt his shirt pocket he realized he had a hypodermic needle and syringe in his pocket.  That may have needed a little explanation had the security guards found it.

 

Fridges and freezers are other likely storage places for odd things.  My friend Regina Dart of Llano Soleado Alpacas and I joke about a game for alpaca owners called “What’s in your freezer” You just have to be prepared to cope with some of the answers!  Currently my freezer contents are not too outrageous unless you consider the alpaca milk and six frozen placentas a little odd (the frozen placentas are being stored for use in a neonatal clinic, and who knows when one might need some alpaca milk for a cria).

 

After being in the alpaca business for 10 years Ric has learned to expect the unexpected from me.   This was illustrated the other day when I was preparing to run some fecal checks on the alpacas.

 

I was going to see a friend for afternoon tea that day, so having collected the poop samples from the alpaca pastures during morning chores I needed to store them until I could run the tests later that day.  I double bagged and sealed each sample and then wrapped them all in a larger bag and stored them in a section of our refrigerator that holds alpaca medicines and supplies.  As I was leaving Ric was coming into the house and so I warned him that the bag I had just placed in the fridge did not contain any tasty snacks, but rather contained poop samples.

 

We run our own alpaca fecal tests on a regular basis.  As part of the process I have to smash up the alpaca poop in a heavy sugar water solution, which results in a soupy mess of alpaca poop.

 

That evening was a cold one and I decided to make a pot of black bean soup for dinner.  The recipe calls for some of the black beans to be pureed and others to be left whole and stirred into the soup.

 

Ric went out that evening and when he came home I was working in the office.  When he came into the house he headed for the kitchen and shortly afterward came to the office with a worried expression on his face.  “What have you been cooking in the kitchen?” he asked.  I told him I had made black bean soup and that it was very tasty, he started to look a little relieved and I asked him if there was a problem with the soup.  He then told me that he had taken a look at the pot of black bean soup on the stove and had a horrible suspicion that it had something to do with the fecal tests I was running – well I guess the soup did bear a bit of a resemblance to the prepared alpaca poop samples, but even I don’t use our kitchen utensils for anything to do with fecal samples!  We actually have a separate kitchen where I do all of the alpaca related kitchen chores, and all things used from that kitchen receive a good cleaning with beach once I am finished.  Still the situation gave me a chuckle and even funnier still is that Ric refuses to eat any of that black bean soup!

 

(On a side note running your own alpaca fecal tests is quite a simple process, it does require a little bit of an investment in equipment such as a microscope and a centrifuge and it is best to work with your vet to learn how to identify the various parasite eggs.  I did come across a very informative web page on alpaca parasites the other day at the website of The Alpaca Hacienda just click on http://www.thealpacahacienda.com/journal/alpaca_parasites.html and you will be taken to that page)

 

Rosemary

January 27, 2009

Winter Pays a Visit

Guess what's under here

Guess what's under here

Well we knew the warm sunny weather had to end at some time and yesterday it did.  From having temperatures close to 70 degree Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius for those of you in areas where Celsius is used) on Sunday we plunged down to 18 F (-7 C) overnight and then achieved daytime high of (-2 C).  Brrrr!!!

 

(You might be asking what relevance the picture of the upturned trash can has to do with all of this – keep reading and you will find out!)

 

The cold weather made the animals a little frisky.  The adult girls were pronging around the pasture on Monday morning as I carried over their feed.  They certainly were not lacking in energy and were more than ready to eat.  Maya one of our llamas was a little shivery as I fed her, cushing in the straw as she ate.  At 11 years of age Maya is starting to feel the cold more in winter, but she is smart and on colder days she stays in the big blue shelter where she is protected from the wind and can cush in deep straw if she needs to.  I made sure I let Maya out of her pen as soon as she had finished eating so that she could return to the comfort of the shelter.

 

The cold also makes the boys frisky, they are apt to wrestle and chase each other more, a natural way of turning up their internal temperature.

 

Today is forecast to be even colder with a chance of freezing fog, freezing rain and even snow.  The weatherman is not promising a lot of moisture, but it is moisture all the same and so we will take it in whatever form it comes.  I might have a slippery time doing chores in the morning, but at least I don’t have to drive anywhere and it always feels so good to come into the warm house when it is cold outside.

 

No doubt my thermal coveralls and fleece-lined jeans will be making an appearance today, along with my alpaca socks and alpaca headband to keep my ears warm.  Chores tend to take a little longer in the cold and so it is best to be prepared to stay outside for a while.

 

Of course our preparations for the cold start as soon as we hear it is coming.  We make sure that the alpacas have a good layer of straw in their shelters, we turn on the heater for the boys’ large water tub and we plan to feed the herd extra warm soaked beet shreds and some extra hay including a little alfalfa.

 

So with regards to the trash can.  Look carefully at the picture and you will see a glow coming from the bottom of the trashcan.  It’s a simple way to keep our outside faucets from freezing!

 

Our outside faucets are supposed to be frost free, but some are quite old and the faucet heads tend to freeze up when the temperature gets really cold.  To make life easier we hang a worklight with a 40-Watt bulb on the faucet, turn the light on, cover with a trash can to keep the heat in and the alpacas and llamas out and voila – a working faucet in the morning.  The things we will do to keep from carrying water buckets!

A simple faucet head defroster (I turned the light off to take the picture, usually it would be on)

A simple faucet head defroster (I turned the light off to take the picture, usually it would be on)

 

Rosemary

January 8, 2009

New Year, New Web Site

Windrush Alpacas New Web Site Home Page

Windrush Alpacas New Web Site Home Page

 

 

After many months of threatening to launch our new web site, I finally found the time to do so on Friday afternoon.  It still needs some additional work, I want to load the alpacas we have for sale, add some more testimonials, perhaps add a photo gallery or slide show page and also add an online store for our alpaca products.  All in good time I suppose! 

 

The new web site has a fresher cleaner look to it; I hope it will be well received.  Most importantly I am able to update it, something that was not possible with the old website as the software I used to create the old site with was no longer supported by the manufacturer and was no longer functional.

 

This blog can still be accessed through the website either through the “Read Our Blog” tab at the top of the site or through the link on the Home Page.

 

It is always a juggling act trying to fit in something like a web site upgrade along with caring for the alpacas, updating herd records and paying bills, but the web site change was a necessary one.  So much business is conducted through the Internet these days that a good web presence is a necessity.

 

I am looking forward to being able to work with my new site, it feels so good to know that I can add things to it and update it.    The site is quite simple but serves its purpose.   I am sure that I will come up with other things to add to it, but for now I feel it is off to a good start. 

 

Take a look at the new site at http://www.windrushalpacas.com/ and let me know what you think!

 

Rosemary

December 8, 2008

Putting Our Fleece On Our Feet

Filed under: alpaca, Alpaca Fiber, alpaca socks, Alpacas, camelids, General, warm socks — Tags: , , — alpacalady @ 7:22 am

Our new socks made from our own Windrush Alpaca fleece

Our new socks made from our own Windrush Alpaca fleece

 

Just before I left for England our shipment of alpaca socks made from our own alpaca fleece arrived.  I just had time to open the boxes and take a quick look, check that none had gone missing in transit (it can happen sometimes, so always insure your processed products) and select two pair for me to take with me on my journey (I am wearing the white pair as I write this entry, except for when I took them off for the above photo).

 

I always joke with Ric that it’s necessary for me to try any product we produce, I think he feels it is an excuse for me to wear lovely alpaca all of the time, but there is an element of necessity in wearing and trying our products.  When you sell any kind of product you really need to know that product’s strengths and weaknesses in order to be able to answer customer questions.   It is impossible to tell someone how a particular pair of alpaca socks feel on your feet if you have never actually worn them yourself.  Likewise are products are subject to various laundry experiments so that we can make our customers aware of how those products will react in certain conditions.  For instance the first alpaca socks we had made from our fleece did not withstand the cavalier washing and drying of Ric’s son Paul.  Once Paul had tossed the socks in with his regular laundry and put them in the dryer he discovered that they reduced to a size suitable to fit the paws of his dog!

 

So having learned the faults of previous socks we had made we tried to rectify those problems in this latest batch.

 

While these latest socks still have the washing instructions of “hand wash, dry flat”, they should be able to withstand machine washing on a cool cycle and maybe even tumble drying on low, but I have not had time to experiment with the dryer yet.

 

Another improvement we have made to out latest line of socks is to have a tough, nylon thread added to the yarn that is used for the reinforced area on the toes and the heels of the sock to help prevent wear and tear in those areas.  The nylon does take away a little from the soft handle on the outside of the sock, but inside the sock we have a soft terry alpaca lining to provide the warm, softness of alpaca next to the bare skin of the foot.  Knowing that I am hard on the heels of my socks, the lady at the mill where we had these socks produced has now challenged me to wear them out!  She is very confident that she will win that challenge.

 

The new socks are a lighter weight than our previous socks, making them more suitable for daily year round wear and have been produced in two colors, traditional white with a grey reinforced toe, instep and heel, and also a nice dark fawn with a brown reinforced toe, instep and heel.   The socks have a small amount of fine wool blended with them for increased elasticity and durability too.

 

We still have to band the socks with our own sock band (a job to do when I return) and then take the necessary steps to market them.   We will be selling them for $20 a pair plus tax.  With my sudden trip to England the launch of our online store has been delayed, so if you would like to try a pair and cannot wait for the online store, give Ric a call at 575-683-5177 and I am sure he will be glad to get some on their way to you!

 

Rosemary

Older Posts »

Blog at WordPress.com.